If you haven't tried kale yet, now may be the time. This super green is currently in season and is packed full of nutritional benefits that puts it high on the list of the world's healthiest foods. If you're including kale in your diet you are providing yourself with nutrients that support healthy skin, hair and bones, as well as healthy digestion and a reduced risk of heart disease. Other possible benefits of consuming kale include improving blood glucose control, particularly beneficial for diabetics - lowering blood pressure - and lowering the risk of developing asthma and cancer.
Being a leafy green cruciferous vegetable it is packed full of essential vitamins C (1 cup of cooked kale has over 1000% more vitamin C than a cup of cooked spinach!) and K, vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, and minerals such as copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Plus it's also low in calories but high in calcium.
Best of all we love how versatile this leafy green is to eat. It can be used in numerous different ways including, as an ingredient for soups and stews, a veg accompaniment to a main dish, or personal favourites for us - mixed in with pasta or roasted crispy style in the oven, see below for more details on these two cooking methods...
Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2 and line a baking tray with baking parchment (if needed).
Wash 50g of ready chopped kale and dry well.
Place in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and mix into the kale.
Sprinkle with some dried chilli flakes (optional) and some sea salt and mix well.
Tip onto the tray and spread out in a single layer.
Bake for 18-22 mins or until crisp but still green, allow to cool slightly before serving.
We love this sprinkled on top of stir fry, it adds a great texture. The amount of kale above will feed 2 people as a small side, up your quantity for more people or larger portions.
Pasta with Kale
This is so simple, just add washed, ready chopped kale to your boiling, salted water as you add the pasta (how much kale is entirely up to you) and allow it to cook for the duration of the pasta cooking time.
Drain (reserving the cooking water) and return to the pan.
To keep it healthy and nutritious add some chopped cooked chicken breast (no skin) and some thinly sliced mushrooms to the drained pasta in the pan.
Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and grate some lemon rind into the pan mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
For a slightly creamier texture you can add some plain, natural yogurt to the pan and mix well. However adding some of your reserved pasta/kale water will have a similar effect, or go with a little of both until at a consistency that you like.
Serve into warmed pasta bowls and sprinkle some grated parmesan or grana padano cheese over the top (optional) before eating.
This is just one way to do pasta with kale, there are so many ingredients you can add as alternatives to the ones above. Cooked prawns, tinned cannellini beans, peas, sweetecorn, olives... the list is endless and you can play around with it as much as you like. The nice thing about cooking the kale in with the pasta and using the reserved cooking liquor to moisten the final dish is that you are still getting the benefits of any nutrients from the kale that have escaped into the water it's been cooked in.